washingtonpost.com  > Columns > Dave Barry
Wit's End

An Off-Color Rift

Whether we vote red or blue, we all put our boxers on one leg at a time

By Dave Barry
Sunday, December 19, 2004; Page W32

I thought that, in today's column, I would heal the nation.

The nation suffered a wound during the recent presidential election as a result of the rift between the red states -- defined as "states where foreign cuisine pretty much means Pizza Hut" -- and the blue states, defined as "states that believe they are smarter than the red states, despite the fact that it takes the average blue-state resident 15 minutes to order a single cup of coffee."

Some blue-state residents are so upset about the election that they're talking about moving to Canada, which is technically a foreign nation. In my view, this would be a mistake: Canada is not the paradise it is often made out to be.

Fact: Every year, 43 percent of all Canadians -- a total of eight Canadians -- are eaten by polar bears.

Besides, running away is never the answer, unless you are a teenage boy who has just blown up a mailbox. As Americans, we need to stay here in America and work things out, because regardless of what color or hue of state we live in, we are all, deep down inside our undershorts, Americans. And as Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that all red-state residents are ignorant, racist, fascist, knuckle-dragging, NASCAR-obsessed, cousin-marrying, roadkill-eating, tobacco juice-dribbling, gun-fondling, religious-fanatic rednecks; or that all blue-state residents are godless, unpatriotic, pierced-nosed, Volvo-driving, France-loving, left-wing communist, latte-sucking, tofu-chomping, holistic-wacko, neurotic, vegan, weenie perverts?

Yes. This is called "diversity," and it is why we are such a great nation -- a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons and SpongeBob SquarePants.

And so today I am calling upon both sides in the red-blue rift to reach out. Maybe we could have a cultural-exchange program between red and blue states. For example, a delegation from Texas could go to California and show the Californians how to do some traditional Texas thing such as castrate a bull using only your teeth, and then the Californians could show the Texans how to rearrange their football stadiums in accordance with the principles of feng shui (for openers, both goal posts should be at the west end of the field). Or maybe New York and Kentucky could have a college-style "mixer," featuring special crossover hors d'oeuvres, such as bagels topped with squirrel parts.

I'm just thinking out loud here. (I don't mean that figuratively: The neighbors would complain.) But I truly believe that if the red states and blue states made a sincere effort to get to know each other they'd discover that, beneath their surface differences, there are a lot of deep underlying differences. But that doesn't mean we have nothing in common. We must always remember that, as Americans, we all have a common enemy -- an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.

I speak from personal experience. For the past year, I have been hounded by an organization calling itself the "United States Department of Commerce," which apparently is linked to the federal government. Every few weeks, the "Department of Commerce" sends me a threatening letter, demanding that I fill out the "2002 Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons (Form SBO-1 or SBO-2)." This is a questionnaire that asks, among other things, whether I am Samoan. The "Department of Commerce" claims that I have to fill this out because of something that was in my federal tax return.

Well listen up, "Department of Commerce," and listen good: I have no idea what was in my federal tax return. Like 93 percent of all U.S. taxpayers, I just sign it and send it in. For all I know, it states that I am a professional squid wrangler. So you're not going to trip me up by getting me to fill out your survey, okay? You will never find out whether or not I am Samoan, unless there is a generous federal program that pays millions of dollars to Samoans, in which case, put me down as Samoan.

But this is not about me. This is about the need for all Americans to join together and heal our national rift. Remember that no matter where we live -- be it in a red state, or a blue state, or a Samoan state -- we are all Americans inside. If we cut ourselves, we will all bleed the same color; and then, as Americans, we will sue somebody. In conclusion, try these squirrel parts.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company